The manner in which the ordnance of this country is constructed is sufficiently familiar to our readers. A tube of steel is encompassed by jackets of wrought-iron, and in this way the toughness of the latter is combined with the hardness of the former. All our guns, as we have said, load at the muzzle, while those of Russia, Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey, are breech-loaders. Italy, in the case of the 100-ton guns with which she intends to arm her two stupendous turret-vessels, the Duilio and Dandolo, has adopted our method of construction, except that she employs smooth, instead of studded, projectiles. With the employment of a gas-check at the base of the shot to prevent windage and so secure the full force of the exploding charge, the use of studs in a shot appears to be unnecessary, sufficient spin being imparted to the projectile by the soft metal of the gas-check before named, which causes the shot to rotate after the manner of a Snider bullet. So satisfactory, indeed, were the Italian trials of these projectiles last year that it is by no means improbable that we, too, may give up the use of studded shot.
As to the comparative value of breech-loaders and muzzle-loaders, we shall not offer an opinion. No doubt a muzzle-loader is the stronger weapon, because its breech is solid; but our cousins, the Germans, urge very justly that, since their guns do not burst, they are quite strong enough. Advocates of the muzzle-loading system argue again that their weapon is more simple in construction, and for this reason is to be preferred; but on the other hand the sponging and loading of a gun is more easy to effect if it opens at the breech. Indeed, in the case of very heavy guns located in a casemate or on board ship, the Germans reproach us with the assertion that we must needs have recourse to all sorts of complicated and awkward machinery in loading, while in their case a simple pulley or crane is all that is necessary. Either, say they, we must expose our gunners through the open port when loading, or, as in the case of the Thunderer, rely blindly on hydraulic apparatus to work the guns for us. So stands the question: perhaps the present war will bring us a solution of it. — Nature.
IN sociology, the "personal equation," if not eliminated, distorts men's view of Nature's workings more than in any other department of thought. Despite this, nowhere else do they cling so tenaciously to this distorting factor. Shallow conclusions, based upon traditional notions of right and wrong, tinctured with the bias of class or education, is the sum total of the majority of attempts at making